City’s speed limit rules on Greg Kruschek Ave.
Hope springs eternal for some folks that the state speed limit—40 mph — will prevail on Greg Kruschek Avenue that bypasses the town along the north side.
Forget about it.
The 30-mph speed limit is the one we get; a 40-mph speed limit is the one that could get us a speeding ticket.
The current effective speed limit is 30 mph as posted, except for a stretch close to the Nome Elementary School where the sign says 25 mph, according to Chief John Papasodora and Tom Moran, city manager.
A recent letter from state Dept. of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Marc Luiken acknowledges a big oops—Greg Kruschek Avenue belongs to the City of Nome, rather than State of Alaska as previously asserted by DOT. Therefore, the City can set the speed limit.
“According to the DOT, the speed limit really already is whatever we say it is,” Moran said Monday, so officers are now ticketing for exceeding the posted limit [30 mph], and theoretically, the cases shouldn’t be thrown out.
At a recent Nome Common Council meeting, Councilman Stanley Andersen cited the letter as an example of how perseverance pays off and guessed that this was the first time the issue reached the Commissioner himself. Along with that comment, Andersen requested better communication between City staff and AK DOT&PF concerning the nomination of streets for capital improvements projects in Nome.
The City asked for Greg Kruschek Avenue from the state in 2012, according to Moran; the state said no. The December letter from Luiken responded to the City’s September request to the State of Alaska to lower the official speed limit, arguing that the City has always owned Greg Kruschek Road and could set the speed limit as it saw fit.
DOT staff members visited Nome in September to drive the road and discuss the issue with Bryant Hammond, city clerk, and John Handeland of Nome Joint Utilities, and returned to Fairbanks to do further research.
“I am pleased to report it is DOT&PF’s position that the City has authority to change the speed limit on Greg Kruschek Avenue because we believe the City has ownership interest in the road and because they maintain the majority of the road,” Luiken’s letter said
Perhaps this was the first time the ownership of the road had been deeply researched, Luiken thought, which may have contributed to “why past DOT staff had asserted positions assuming state ownership, and thus state responsibility for engineering decisions,” Luiken said.
“It is our opinion the state has no fee interest of the state right-of-way of what has historically been known as the Nome Bypass Road,” according to Luiken. Further, a substantial length of the road was currently managed and maintained by the City, from “N” Street to Nome-Teller Highway per a memorandum of agreement between the City and State of Alaska dated Oct. 25, 2007.
Additionally, Luiken assured that locally owned roads were routinely funded in the Statewide Improvement Program and the majority of projects funded in the community transportation plan were non-state facilities. Thus, the door may open for a project to upgrade the route with a pedestrian walkway.
At the same time, Luiken declared himself committed to partnering with communities to care for transportation infrastructure.
“Given the state’s fiscal climate and our declining general fund resources available for maintenance, it is critical that the state and municipalities work together to sustain roads and runways that remote communities such as Nome rely heavily upon,” Luiken concluded.